Upper Elementary Library

Halloween at the Library!

Golems, witches, dybbuks, ibburs, demons, monsters — things that go bump in the night — AAHHH!!! (It must be Halloween!)

If you think Jewish tradition isn’t rife with evil creepy things, you’d be wrong, DEAD wrong! So convinced were they that demons existed, our talmudic rabbis explained in a midrash exactly why and how G-d created them on the 6th day. There are multiple mentions of witches directly in the Torah (the Witch of Endor comes to mind) and even of sea monsters and divination. Read more about it here: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/…/demons-dybbuks…/

The Talmud is also replete with tales of demons and witches and how to overcome them. One of the most famous is THE RABBI AND THE TWENTY-NINE WITCHES retold by Marilyn Hirsh, in which the wise rabbi of a small town outwits the witches who terrorized the population at every full moon.

I followed up with DEBORAH THE DYBBUK: A GHOST STORY, also by Marilyn Hirsh, about a mischievous girl who dies and whose ghost inhabits a living girl, making her do all sorts of outrageous things. (In this too, a wise rabbi solves the problem. I sense a pattern.)

With the older children, I explained the basics of midrash, especially in relation to demonology. The Rabbis not only believed in demons, but in their ability to thwart them with incantations, superstitious ritual, and excessive piety. Folk religion took up the mantle with amulets and incantation bowls buried beneath the floors of houses. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/magic-bowls/

And since there can be no discussion of magic without a Harry Potter type book, I introduced JORDAN AND THE DREADFUL GOLDM by Karen Goldman, about a group of children in Israel with special powers who must face an existential threat. The kids can check it out through our online catalog https://fisherlibrary.rmwebopac.com/

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Noah’s Ark at the Library

We’re chugging right along with the Torah. Next Shabbat is the story of Noah, and Noah’s ark books abound! Problem is, which to choose? I decided to focus on community helpers, small and big.

I went with a charmer called THE CHAMELEON THAT SAVED NOAH’S ARK by Yael Molchadsky. Things are humming right along in the ark, except the chameleons are proving to be picky eaters. Then, Naamah (Noah’s wife) discovers worms eating all the produce! What to do? The tiny chameleons show the way by gobbling up the worms (except 2 of course), thereby saving the food supply. Even little ones can help in a big way!

Our 2nd book was a midrashic tale called OG’S ARK by Allison Marks, depicting the giant Og, who looked pretty scary, but loved animals and helped Noah herd them onto the ark in exchange for a place to rest (on TOP of the ark!) during the flood. Though his size made him an outcast, he ended up being the biggest helper of all!

(Og, King of Bashan, is actually in the Torah, but lived on extensively in midrash. For a whimsical outline of his exploits, try this: https://www.chabad.org/…/Memoirs-of-Og-the-Not-So…).

Finally, I was able to corral some more older students to read a book I introduced last week — JONAS SALK AND THE POLIO VACCINE by Katherine Krohn. Aside from reading the book, I also put together a slide show of the era. They had never heard of Salk or polio (aren’t they lucky!), so this was a good lesson.

All these books and more can be checked out from our website https://fisherlibrary.rmwebopac.com/.

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